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To show they still are free. I rush to you
Heavens ! with what pride I used
my boat at night, when midway o'er the lake The stars went out, and down the mountain gorge The wind came roaring. I have sat and eyed The thunder breaking from his cloud, and smiled To see him shake his lightnings o'er my head, And think I had no master save his own. On the wild jutting cliff, o'ertaken oft By the mountain blast, I've laid me flat along; And while gust followed gust more furiously, As if to sweep me o'er the horrid brink, Then I have thought of other lands, whose storms Are summer flaws to those of mine, and just Have wished me there; the thought that mine was free Has checked that wish, and I have raised my head, And cried in thraldom to that furious wind, “ Blow on! This is the land of liberty !”
LXXX. - GOOD AND BAD TEMPER.
Good temper is not exactly a virtue, and bad temper is not exactly a vice; but the happiness or unhappiness of life depends so much upon them that we should aim at one as if it were a virtue, and avoid the other as if it were a vice. A good-tempered man brings with him an atmosphere of sunshine ; but a bad-tempered man breathes round him an influence like that of a day of clouds and rain. To live in the same house with an ill-tempered person is like living in the same room with a loaded gun: in both cases we are in constant danger of an explosion.
There are many kinds of bad temper in the world. There is the hot and hasty temper, which flames up into a blaze on any sudden provocation, vents itself in angry expressions, and. is known by the inflamed cheek and the kindling eye; but after a while the storm blows over, and all is calm again. Many men of this stamp will, when their passion has cooled, express the greatest sorrow for what they have said and done in their angry mood, and endeavor, by kindness and caresses, to recover the affection of those whose feelings they have wounded.
Then there is the sullen temper, which broods over an offence whether real or imaginary, cherishes unkind and revengeful thoughts, and obstinately refuses to forgive an injury or make up a quarrel. This is a hateful form of ill temper; and a man who is cursed with it is to be pitied as well as avoided. His heart may be compared to some dark cavern or den, where the blessed light of day never comes, and which is haunted by bats, and toads, and serpents.
Then there is the suspicious temper, which is, indeed, one form of the sullen temper; which all the time keeps an uneasy watch over the conduct of others, and takes offence where none is meant. A man of this temper sees things through a false medium, which discolors and distorts all objects. A friend, absorbed in thought, passes him in the street without bowing to him; but he believes it to have been done on purpose, and broods over the fancied slight day after day. His friend, innnocent and unsuspecting, does not know what to make of his altered manner and short replies. It is a safe rule to suppose that others act from good motives, and when
an act is capable of being explained in two ways, to take the kind and generous view. A suspicious man is always making himself unhappy without cause.
Then there is the peevish temper, which expresses itself by scolding, fretting, and complaining; incessant as the dropping from the eaves in a wet day, and so wearisome that we should be thankful for a violent explosion of passion, which might act like a clearing-up shower, and bring a calm afterwards. Sad is the lot of those who are obliged to live in the same house with a peevish and fretful man or woman; for in such a house there is no peace and no joy, but a constant succession of trials, each one of which is little in itself, but all added together make a great sum of discomfort.
Some persons are born with better tempers than others, just as some are born with stronger bodies and higher mental powers than others. Some, too, have their tempers injured by sickness, by loss of property, by troubles and disappointment. But every one can do much to correct a bad temper by care, and watchfulness, and self-discipline. General Washington was naturally passionate ; but he subdued his passion so completely that he seemed one of the calmest and mildest of
Mr. Jefferson once wrote down some rules of conduct, one of which was this : “When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.” This is a good piece of advice to a passionate person.
Unless we learn to control our tempers, we can hardly help making ourselves and others constantly unhappy by our fretfulness and fits of anger; for many things happen in this world which are vexatious and annoying. We are often obliged to give up what we want, and to do what we do not like to do. This is the common lot; and it is in this way that God educates us for a better life hereafter. Many things, for instance, happen in the most prosperous and best-ordered family, which have a tendency to try the temper. The baby will sometimes cry; the fire sometimes smokes; the dinner is not always ready at the exact moment; the rain leaks through
the roof; in summer, every thing is covered with dust ; in winter, the pump is choked with frost, or the water pipes burst. All these things should be borne with patience and gentleness; for all the scolding and fretting in the world will not make the trouble any less, or help to set any thing right.
How delightful it is to enter that house over which the spirit of love, and patience, and good temper presides! There no loud voices are heard, no angry chỉdings, ņo stormy reproaches, no impatient expressions. The government of the parents is firm, but kind; and their reproofs are gentle: they rule by love, and not by fear. The children bear with one another, and the elder are patient with the younger. Each one is ready to give up his or her wishes to the rest, and render cheerful obedience to their parents will. There is no rough struggling for books or playthings, no sharp-tongued contest for this place or that privilege, no loud disputes about balls, or kites, or dolls. Such a home is like a piece of heaven fallen upon the earth. Happy are the children who are reared therein; and happy are the parents who make their household a household of love !
LXXXI. - A HASTY TEMPER CORRECTED.
[This and the next succeeding lesson are taken from an excellent work by Miss Sedge wick, entitled Home. In the family of Mr. Barclay it presents to us a delightful picture of a happy home; not exempted from the trials and sorrows which belong to our mortal life, but in which all discipline is turned to moral growth by the spirit of faith, and hope, and love. This is a fictitious narrative; that is, there never was actually such a man as Mr. Barclay, or such a boy as his passionate son; but the account of Wallace's struggles to overcome his hasty temper is a true représentation of what every man and every boy must do who resolves to rule his spirit and subdue his passions.)
OUR friends were now in a convenient house, adapted to their improved fortune and increasing family. The family were assembled in a back parlor. Mrs. Barclay was at some domestic employment, in aid of which Martha had just brought in a tub of scalding water. Charles, the eldest boy, with a patience most unboyish, was holding a skein of yarn for grandmamma to wind; Alice, the eldest girl, was arranging the dinner table in the adjoining room; Mary, the second, was amusing the baby at the window; Willie was saying his letters to aunt Betsey : all were busy; but the busiest was little Haddy, a sweet child of four years, who was sitting in the middle of the room on a low chair, and who, unobserved by the rest, and herself unconscious of wrong, was doing deadly mischief.
She had taken a new, unfinished, and very precious kite belonging to her brother Wallace, cut a hole in the centre, thrust into it the head of her pet Maltese kitten, and was holding it by the fore paws, and making it dance on her lap; the little animal looking as demure and formal as one of Queen Elizabeth's maids of honor in her ruff. At this critical juncture, Wallace entered in search of his kite. One word of excuse for Wallace beforehand. The kite was the finest he had ever possessed: it had been given him by a friend, and that friend was waiting at the door to string and fly it for him.
At once, the ruin of the kite, and the indignity to which it was subjected, flashed over him; and perhaps little Haddy's very satisfied air exasperated him. In a breath he seized the kitten, and dashed it into the tub of scalding water. His father had come in to dinner, and paused at the open door of the next room. Haddy shrieked; the children all screamed ; Charles dropped grandmamma's yarn, and, at the risk of his own hand, rescued the kitten ; but seeing its agony, he gently dropped it in again, and thus put the speediest end to its sufferings.
The children were all sobbing. Wallace stood pale and trembling. His eye turned to his father, then to his mother, then was riveted on the floor. The children saw the frown on their father's face, more dreaded by them than ever was flogging or dark closet.